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If you’re not only a hotel geek but kinda a science geek too, you probably already know that March 14 is Pi Day (because the mathematical constant π, or Pi, which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is approximately equal to 3.14, but with 1.2 trillion digits after it).
If you didn’t know that, you might want to know this: Some hotels are using this as an excuse to bring out their best pies for the occasion. And who doesn’t like a nice pie?
The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC is offering a scrumptious-looking Apple Pi Tartlet (that's it above) that’s made with 3 Pi (9.42) Granny Smith apples. The tartlet is topped with decorative apples made of white chocolate—can you stand it?
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We thought Bitcoin, the open-source internet currency, was over…as far as using it to pay for hotel stays. Indeed, the Howard Johnson hotel in Fullerton, Calif. that we spoke to back in 2011 stopped using it after the Bitcoin market crashed.
But today Bitcoin is back and is now accepted in the one city where money talks--Las Vegas.
Two Downtown Vegas hotels--the D Las Vegas and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino will begin taking Bitcoins starting tomorrow, including the front desk for each hotel and the D's gift shop. You can even use Bitcoin to pay for Coney Dogs at American Coney Island and steaks at Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse. Here's how it will work:
Bitcoin purchases at the casino hotels will be processed through BitPay, a service that streamlines transactions using tablet and mobile interfaces. Tablets programmed with BitPay will be installed at each cashier, allowing Bitcoin users to easily pay for services using their mobile wallets.
Derek Stevens, CEO of the D and Golden Gate, said the hotels began accepting Bitcoin due to "guest demand." Hmm…while we like how Stevens took initiative, guest demands sounds unlikely. After all, do you know someone using Bitcoin? Seriously, do you? Ok, maybe some of you do. But most of us just know about Bitcoin from its Wikipedia page.
Nonetheless, one Bitcoin equals roughly about $822 and considering that rooms at the D start at $22 tomorrow night, if you're in possession of just one Bitcoin, then you can go wild in Vegas.
Every time a cool new app comes out promising guests to check-in or check-out via their phone or table or use their handheld as a room key, we always wonder how much longer it will be before human hotel staff become obsolete. Well, at The Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel in Shenzhen, China, that time is here.
The Nanfang Insider reports that the hotel is nearly entirely staffed by ROBOTS. Robots greet you at reception and at the front desk and even serve you drinks and food in the lobby lounge. However, there are some humans on hand in case the service, um, short circuits.
As for the rooms, they cost just $11 a night because as the hotel name suggests, they are capsule rooms. These tiny little pods are tricked out with blue mood lighting, WiFi, flat-screen, ports galore and according to this pic, the privacy to view some adult movies on your iPad.
[Photo: Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel]
We've long fantasized about keyless hotel rooms where we could use our smartphone instead of a key card to enter the room. But the Hotel Alma in Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter is going way beyond that with a fingerprint recognition system.
It works like this--you arrive to check-in and in addition to collecting your credit card for incidentals and telling you about the room amenities (free WiFi, breakfast and access to the spa are included), the hotel takes a scan of your fingerprint. Then you can use your finger to open the door to your room at any time. No key cards needed and no worries about the card getting demagnetized in your purse or wallet. So. Cool. And it's also available at the hotel's sister hotel in Pamplona.
Of course, you can opt for a regular key if you think is too fancy for your tastes but we think it's a no-brainer. Rooms at the trendy, high-tech boutique hotel start at about 200 Euros a night. The hotel's website also has a voyeuristic video showing a hunky grey-haired "guest" (an actor, we think) doing various things in his room--waking up, putting on his shirt (!!!) and sitting down at the desk to do work. Hopefully, the fingerprint access will keep out peeping Toms.
[Photo: Hotel Alma/Facebook]
You know how much we love cool hotel technology here on HotelChatter but today we're spotlighting some hotels that go far beyond offering giant flat-screen TVs, bedside control panels, TVs in the bathroom mirrors and even gold iPads. While we've yet to find a hotel that allows guests to borrow a pair of Google Glasses during their stay, these hotels are truly forward-thinking in their amenities and their experiences,except for the one that offers a cassette tape player in the room. But we had to include that one. We had to!
THE SCI FI HOTEL
Whatever sci-fi fantasy tickles your pickleperhaps plugged into the grid like in "The Matrix," abducted and organ-farmed by aliensthe 9hours Hotel in Kyoto, Japan is about as close to it in real life as you can get. The property is a simple, nearly windowless building in an alley near Kyoto's Kawaramachi Station and, like other Japanese capsule hotels, it specializes in giving the weary worker or traveler one solid night of bare-bones rest in a sparkling clean, sex-segregated environment.
Unlike other Japanese capsule hotels, however, it's prime focus is on good living through good design. Alarms are soundless; ambient lighting gradually awakens the sleeper without disturbing other capsules. Pajamas and basic toiletries are provided, and the WiFi is free (but kept out of sleeping quarters). We paid 4,900 JPY ($48) just a few days ago and would do it again, sci-fi fantasies or no.
THE AV GEEK HOTEL
Speaking of capsule hotels, Japan has actually expanded upon the concept to create a small chain of sleeping pod rooms called The First Cabin. Modeled after the semi-private quarters of airplane first-class suites, each guest is assigned one room identical to the rest. Inside is a large Sony flatscreen TV (only watchable by using the provided noise-cancelling headphones so as not to disturb others), pajamas, basic toiletries, a lockable storage drawer and several power outlets and free WiFi.
Since it's a chain, we chose the Osaka location as the geekiest owing to its libraries of manga novels and its location near Dotonbori, a mecca for foodies. Even better is they're growing; First Cabin currently has branches in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, but this June they'll debut in central Tokyo's Akihabara district, a name synonymous with "otaku" or geek culture. Rates start at 3,300 JPY ($32) in Osaka and only 2,800 ($27) in Kyoto.
The next time you find yourself at a Hard Rock Hotel or Casino or Cafe, take a moment to look around and enjoy the TVs and digital signs. Seriously.
That's because Hard Rock has partnered with moving image exhibitor Microcinema International to create mesmerizing digital moving image art that is synchronized with the popular hits playing in the hotels (or cafes) from classic rock jams to today's latest
Bieberpop hit or the latest in EDM. It's kind of similar to the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas that are synchronzied with classical music, except instead of shooting water canons, you see trippy digital art keeping the beat on the TVs and other digital signs.
“As a forerunner in the curation and distribution of moving image arts, Microcinema is the perfect partner for Hard Rock International,” said John Kirkpatrick, head of music and artist relations at Hard Rock International. “Microcinema’s ability to understand our customer base and aesthetic approach produced impressive results and we look forward to continually evolving the relationship between music and visual arts together.”
Here are a few snapshots taken from a Hard Rock Cafe. Just imagine your favorite Rihanna track as you flip through the gallery, or better yet, the new Daft Punk album. #sogood.
All photos courtesy of Hard Rock Hotels
When Westin Hotels rolled out their rentable workspaces last May we were relieved to hear of a place where we could get real work done that didn't involve the endless grind of coffee beans or the perpetual smell of greasy french fries. The only bummer was that the workspaces, then called Project Hive, were available in just two hotels--The Westin Boston Waterfront and The Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel. But now that's about to change.
Westin has announced that they will roll out more of these cool workspaces around the world to more than 40 Westin hotels. They are also ditching the name Project Hive in favor of the moniker Tangent. However, the workspace concept will remain the same with each work zone featuring media:scape by Steelcase technology, video conferencing, TVs, printers, sound systems, Xbox 360s, floor to-ceiling whiteboards, wired and wireless internet for no additional fee and lots of outlets for all your gadgets.
What we like the best is the spaces can be booked by the hour at a moment's notice. Sayonara uncomfortable lobby seats, we'll be kicking it at Tangent.
[Photo: Westin Hotels]
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Are you ready to dive into the hive?
Some good news for digital nomad tribes today--you no longer have to squat in uncomfortable hotel lobby chairs to get your work done.
Westin Hotels have announced a new business center concept called Project Hive and like its name suggests, the space is designed to help you and fellow worker bees be more productive. Even better, you can rent out these spaces on LiquidSpace.com without having to be a paying hotel guest.
The 260-sq.ft. hive (some are even smaller than this) offers all that you could want from an office setting including: media:scape by Steelcase technology with video conferencing and a four-person seated workspace; Samsung TVs, floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, printers, Xbox 360s for games and DVDs and even office supplies like pens and light refreshments.
Best of all, there is both wired and wireless internet available for no extra fee. And when you need a break from all the work, you can admire a large-scale wall mural in the workspace, designed by Westin's VP of Design, Erin Hoover and her team, which is derived from the Fibonacci sequence.
Have you ever stayed in a hotel and wished you record your favorite TV show to watch after you come back from a night out? We have, plenty of times. Especially if we forgot to set up the recordings on our TV back home.
It might sound crazy but we've actually wondered when the heck hotels were going to start installing DVRs. But it looks like we won't have to wonder any more.
DIRECTV has just announced their new DIRECTV Residential Experience for Hotels which will allow guests to pause, rewind, forward and best of all record from over 100 HD television channels during their hotel stay. Just like you do at home. It will even look the same (but of course, hotels are allowed to put some "branding info" onto the home screen.)
DIRECTV also offers an anti-microbial remote for guests to use too (We still hope housekeeping wipes down every remote anyways.)
Right now the Residential Experience for Hotels is in 110 hotels across the country, including a few Hilton Hotels. We'll be on the lookout for more hotels to add this amenity soon.
Have you stayed in a hotel with a DVR recently? Let us know where!
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What did TripAdvisor rate "Trendiest Hotel of 2011?" This one: the Hotel New Republic in Singapore's Chinatown. Don't let that color your judgment however, since our recent stay proved that "trendy" here doesn't mean it's overcrowded, packed with scensters or cheap furniture to look "cool." Instead, the New Republic is a quiet 30-room design-focused hotel that has expertly renovated a historic Chinatown shophouse into a place we sincerely wish we had booked for more than one night.
To be completely honest, of all the hotels we've experienced in Singapore, the New Majestic is the first one we'd return to on our next trip. It is ideal for travelers who seek out unique spaces that reflect the spirit of the destination (ah hem, not a big chain hotel) and for those who desire to be outside of the business district, in the heart of culture. And maybe those who want a funky pool too.
Rooms at the New Majestic begin around $200 per night, which we paid. There really aren't any bad rooms, but we'd try for the second floor where each room has either a balcony or a patio, some of those patios with outdoor soaking bathtubs. It's details like thisand there are many of themthat give you a sense that the New Majestic is having fun...fun with design, fun with being in Chinatown and fun with having you there, doing things like taking an al fresco midnight bath by the light of a lantern.
We love geek hotels. Really, we do. The geekier and more kitted out with tech goodies, the better, but the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge was quite possibly the geekiest this past weekend in a plain paper-and-pencil (and pocket protector) way.
Hundreds of people descended upon the hotel this weekend for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, their No. 2 pencils sharpened and their "don't copy me" glares practiced. In fact, it was the 35th Anniversary of the competition, first begun by puzzle god Will Shortz. The 2012 champion is Dan Feyer and, though the fun is done for now, it'll be backsame placenext year.
If you're up for some serious crossword challenge and you're into the idea of spending a weekend hanging out at a hotel, then mark these dates on your calendar: March 8-10, 2013.
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Thus far into our exploration of Singapore's funky Wanderlust Hotel, we've taken you inside the Space Suite, the Typewriter Suite and of course into a regular room, as bright purple as it was. Now's the time to have a look around the lobby that gets it in so many design publications, and a few other surprises.
There's something about Singapore hotels you should know. Once you go above tourist class into luxury level, almost every hotel has a pretty lovely swimming pool for beating the high temperatures. Below, in the "affordable" category of hotels where the Wanderlust rules, it's extremely rare to find a pool. The Wanderlust has compromisedthere's a small outdoor deck with some designer patio furniture, a postage-stamp of a lawn and a sunken, rainbow whirlpool. While too small for a swim, it's plenty large for a late evening soak with a beer.